Happy Mother’s Day!

Sigma snuggles one of her babies (Arizona Black Rattlesnakes).
Sigma snuggles one of her babies (Arizona Black Rattlesnakes).

There’s something special about moms, right? So, today’s post is about an under-appreciated group of moms (you guessed it), Arizona Black Rattlesnakes!

Human moms – you think you have it tough? Rattlesnake maternal duties may only last a couple weeks, but during that time they may have to protect their kids from extreme temperatures, a suite of predators, annoying (and deadly?) squirrels, and clumsy humans with cameras… By the time they give birth, mother rattlesnakes likely haven’t eaten in weeks or even months, but they wait another couple weeks to give full attention to their newborns. So here’s to you rattlesnake mommies!

We’ll start with the most famous of all, Cap Mama, who showed us what a typical day is like for a new rattlesnake family:

Cap Mama and her kiddos (Arizona Black Rattlesnakes)
What a beautiful family she has!

For an explanation of the behaviors seen in this video, check out A day in the life of a rattlesnake family.

Sigma may have been one of our smaller mothers, but what she lacked in size she made up for in bravery:

Check out the full story of Sigma’s squirrel battles here.

We’ve been lucky enough to see Woody and Alice with two different litters.

alice
Alice’s family, 2010
alice
Alice’s family, 2012
Woody’s family, 2012. You can watch more timelapse videos of Woody’s family here and here.

Babysitting!

So now you know that rattlesnakes take care of their kids. Sometimes they take care of their friends’ kids too!?!

Learn more about this super-cool behavior in Rattlesnake Babysitting.

Eve and family (Arizona black rattlesnakes)
Eve and family, plus probably a nestmate’s kids (Arizona Black Rattlesnakes), photographed by Jeff Smith.